Last August, when the flash drive died in a 2012 MacBook Air, I figured that I should replace it myself. Unfortunately, the Apple warranty had just expired — but this was a chance to expand the flash drive from 64 GB to 128 GB. The repair / upgrade set me back about $200 for parts. I did it myself. I considered the issue resolved, but then I read about Apple’s MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program. Apparently, this wasn’t just some random issue. It also looked like Apple was giving refunds. Would I be getting cash back from Apple?
Repairing or upgrading Apple hardware is becoming more difficult. This is especially true with the 2012 MacBook Air. The RAM is hardwired to the motherboard and special screwdrivers are needed to even open the case. The MacBook Air isn’t really designed for messing with the hardware. One of the few parts that can be customized is the Flash Drive.
There’s this idea that floats around in society — It’s better to do something for yourself. I was kinda happy that I could get my hands dirty. (Although, the inside of the MacBook Air was rather clean. It wasn’t collecting dust like my old PC towers.) Since I switched my main computer over to Mac, I haven’t been able to mess with computer hardware as much. I was excited about doing the repair.
The excitement was tempered with disappointment. This is an expense! I wasn’t happy about spending around $200 for a 128 GB flash drive. OWC was pretty cool though. They included the special screwdrivers and an external case for the Flash Drive. This would allow me to reuse the flash drive as an external USB device. The joy of upgrading the MacBook Air was also offset by confusion. I was puzzled as to how a flash drive could just drop dead in little more than a year. The computer was still newish.
It was an anxious moment in time, as I wasn’t even sure if the new flash drive would fix the computer. But soon after the new component was in place, I was able to get the MacBook Air working again. Problem solved, right?
Today, I learned about Apple’s MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program. It stated something interesting…
If you believe you have paid for a repair or replacement due to this issue, contact Apple regarding a refund.
Would this lead to a check from Apple? I didn’t know, so the next step was to try the “contact” link.
The process was rather disappointing. The website lead to a phone call from Apple, which lead to three different techs that couldn’t resolve the issue. Instead, I was directed to a different phone number. After talking to another two people, it seems that Apple would not be paying for the repair. The reason: I did the repair myself.
It didn’t matter to Apple that I had an invoice for the replacement hardware. Because the repair wasn’t done by Apple, or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, it didn’t count for a refund. I didn’t get angry, but that seemed like lousy customer service to me. There’s a known issue, where other people are likely to receive refunds, but not for this MacBook Air. They didn’t even offer an iTunes gift card. $100 off the new iPad 5 would have been nice too. But now, I’m not sure if I should buy any other Apple products.
A MacBook Air is not cheap! As comparison, I bought a Windows laptop two years ago for about $320 — and it’s still running great. The $1100 MacBook Air had more trouble. I was under the impression that Apple had better hardware and better customer support. The problems with the 2012 MacBook Air has me questioning that notion.
I suggested to Apple that they update their website. They should clearly specify the refund process, as other customers might not be as tolerant. The contact link should have been more specific. Also, if Apple is going to do a recall (as this seems like a recall to me) in the future, the support staff should be fully trained before the official announcement. It seemed like I caught the support team by surprise. If Apple is serious about improving customer support, they should better support their support team and genuinely help customers when Apple products fail.
It seems like there’s a known issue with the 2012 MacBook Air. Because I fixed the problem myself, I lost money.